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Society

COVID, Cancel Culture And Crisis At The Paris Opera

A pillar of French culture, the Paris Opera is struggling to survive both the pandemic and criticism of its lack of diversity. Will such an important institution be able to withstand the changes of time?

The Paris Opera found itself in the middle of a hot controversy about the lack of diversity of its dancers and singers
The Paris Opera found itself in the middle of a hot controversy about the lack of diversity of its dancers and singers
Michel Guerrin

PARIS — Cultural institutions in France are in chaos, resigned to waiting for the vaccine before they can fully operate again. But for one of them, the drama doesn't end there. The Paris Opera will spend 2021 having a long, hard look at the question of identity after it found itself in the middle of a hot controversy about the lack of diversity of its dancers and singers.

The problems started from a long-form investigation of M, the magazine supplement of Le Monde, published on December 26th. When M journalist Elise Karlin met the Paris Opera's current director, Alexander Neef, and discussed three famous Rudolf Nureyev ballets — La Bayadère, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker — he confessed to her that "some of our famous acts will definitely disappear from the repertoire." Which ones? Neef didn't clarify but the link to Nureyev, a world-famous dancer and former director of the Paris Opera who died in 1993, was clear. His choreographies embody a world of white ballet, and La Bayadère even includes blackface in "Danse des négrillons."

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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